Tempranillo traces its origins to the Iberian Peninsula. It's still most associated with Spain, notably the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is also widely grown in Portugal, where it's known as Tinta Roriz. There are some notable plantings in Argentina, too.
Tempranillo grows in tight clusters of black, thick-skinned berries. It's early-budding and -ripening—"temprano" means "early" in Spanish—and generally likes warm days and cool nights. The grape is best-suited to calcareous and clay soils, as well as chalk and limestone.
Tempranillo's profile varies, depending mostly on winemaking techniques, but it does have hallmark characteristics. It makes medium- to full-bodied reds of moderate to high levels of tannins and acidity. It shows a mix of red and dark fruits, including cherry and plum, as well as earth and herbal notes; its acidity can sometimes be citrusy and orange peel–like. Oak aging is very common for Tempranillo, traditionally in American oak, but French oak is also used in modern styles. This will impart flavors like vanilla and cocoa powder.
Where it's grown
Suggested food pairings
- Beef pot roast with root vegetables
- Szechuan pork with tingling sweet potatoes
- Steak fajitas
- Roast lamb